Shifting from 'Difficult' Team to 'Possible' Team

MSME ARTICLE #2/2018 : APRIL 18th 2018

Many of the leaders that I coach have teams reporting to them. Most of these leaders are enthusisatic about their role and aspire great outcomes with their teams. Some areas of concerns for these leaders include:-
-Getting the team to gel with each other
-Getting the team to collaborate on tasks with each other
-Getting the team to share without judgement of each other
-Getting the team to build on each others’ ideas and support each other
-Getting the team to support the leader in the organizational vision

When these aspirations of my client-leaders become fulfilled, then they feel that they have become truly inspirational, motivational and influential leaders to their team. Additionally, once these leaders have completed their tenure in the organisation, they feel confident and comfortable as as they leave their organisations. The key reason being, these leaders trust their team to have the right competency, skill, attitude and aptitude to enable the organisation to continue its growth path.

One of the leaders that I coached shared that the above stated areas of concern was prevalent among her team members. During the coaching session she struggled to articulate how her team’s behaviour patterns were jeopardising her department’s overall progress. To enable her and me to have greater clarity of what was happening with her team members, I used the Tool called “The Magic Box”. Inside this box I had several pieces of wooden carved animals. I asked her to choose one of the animals to represent herself, the leader. Then she proceeded to choose other animals to represent her team members. Finally, we had the first setting of the animals, which represented the current scenario of her team.

I then proceeded to have a deep conversation with her on the rationale behind the choice of animal for herself the leader as well as for each team player. She shared that the choice of animals for each team member represented their current respective characteristics, such as their strengths, motivation, skills, competencies, attitude and capabilities. Then I continued to inquire and explore the direction the animal was looking with respect to the leader, followed by the distance between the animal and the leader. The direction and location of the animals represented their respective levels of commitment, passion, support and alignment. As the leader shared her answers to my probing exercise, deep insights were gained by her as to the current scenario. She gained clarity into the reasons for her team’s current behaviour patterns as well as their level of commitment. This also enabled the leader to identify the existing gaps in each team member.

Next I challenged her to re-arrange the animals and create a new setting that would fulfill her desired aspirations. When she has completed this activity, she had chosen different directions and locations for each of the team members. Upon my inquiry, she responded that she changed the direction of the animals as she wanted them to be aligned to the organisational and departmental goal. She became aware that the current scenario was hindering that process. She also stated that she changed their position with respect to their distance to her. Her rationale for this was; each individual team member’s gap areas became clearer to her. She got an appreciation of what they needed from her. She realised which team member needed what type of intervention activities and how to enable them. She also secured a more positive outlook on her team. She stopped looking at their gaps. She did a mental re-framing of the current scenario. She replaced it with a scenario that is filled with ‘possibilities’.

There were many “aha” moments she experienced while using “The Magic Box” tool. Almost instantaneously she said, “Now I know what to do”. She felt she understood her role clearer as to how she could lead them better. She felt she understood where her team members were coming from. She realised their behaviour pattern was partly in response to her behaviour and mindset to them. She gained clarity as to what they needed from her to take them to the next level. She also realised how easily she could do a mental re-framing that would enable her to significantly feel energetically empowered. She saw a meaningful shift from “difficulties” to “possibilities”!


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